20 of the Best Memphis Rap Projects
Dark times call for dark music, and there’s perhaps no better hub for eerie, murder-inspired hip-hop than Memphis, Tenn. Since rap's inception, the city has been a home to that lo-fi basement gutter that only those welcoming to the stories of the occult would appreciate. Whether it’s early Gangsta Pat tapes or the underground releases from Three 6 Mafia, M-Town's hip-hop scene successfully created a place for relaying hopelessness and vivid violent aggression through music.
Not all of Memphis represents the dark side however. As a southern city, pimpin’ and old school culture often motivate its soundscape. 8Ball and MJG, Tela and Kingpin Skinny Pimp were just a few of the artists who took their cues from other areas, representing the practice of bending corners and slamming Cadillac doors. Eventually, all area influences began to bleed together, making Memphis one of the most unique hip-hop hubs in all of the country.
In honor of Donald Trump’s newly-inaugurated presidency and the chance the world may come to an end (like on Three 6’s Chapter 2: World Domination, which fittingly celebrates its 20th anniversary later this year), XXL highlights 20 essential Memphis hip-hop releases.
These projects are a combination of albums and underground mixtapes, some of which are extremely hard to find. From the playa slopes of Westwood and Orange Mound to the Northside and beyond, these are the pinnacle of projects coming straight outta the projects, in no particular order. Enjoy.
Words by Justin Ivey and Paul Meara